Here is the big secret of Essential Puree: The single most important ingredient for a great puree is the sauce.
Nothing glorifies a holiday meal more than a tasty gravy. It is an excellent medium for puree.
This recipe is flexible. You can use it with or without pan juices from a roasted bird. You can make your own stock or buy store bought. This one is mushroom and thyme based. The secret ingredient is the rich taste of a good lower sodium soy sauce.
The dysphagia patient will never be bored with the food when the puree is made with a homemade gravy. The homemade gravy makes the taste buds sing. Also, most store-bought gravies are very high in sodium in order to achieve flavor. At home, you use the artistry of the kitchen instead of an overload of salt.
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 15 minutes Level: Easy
Yield: Single recipe yields two one-half cup servings of gravy.
- 1 cup mushrooms, preferably Baby Bella, Oyster, Chanterelle, Maitake or Morel. If you have nothing else, white button mushrooms will do.
- 4 tablespoons oil, can be extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, walnut or canola oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
- 2 tablespoons Wondraflour, from the supermarket
- 1 cup simmering water or warmed lower sodium broth of your choice
- Pan juices from roast turkey, chicken, pork. If you have roasted any of these, especially if you have roasted a turkey with vegetables in the bottom of the pan, such as carrots, onions and celery, with broth and herbs.
- 2 shots of lower sodium soy sauce (optional)
Mince a handful of baby portobellos or any combination of mushrooms
A cup of mushrooms is the correct amount for a cup of broth. Double the recipe for more gravy for a crowd. If your healthcare provider permits it, you can use half broth and half white wine.
Cut off the nubby end of the stem and wipe the mushroom clean with a damp paper towel. Slice the mushrooms into medium slices. You may remove the stems and chop them in the warmed liquid, creating a more intense flavor, a mushroom stock.
Saute mushrooms in 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Add 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme from the herb garden. Alternatively, a pinch of dried thyme will work.
Mushrooms will soak up the oil. Add the second tablespoon of oil if the pan gets dry. If you’ve added more oil and the pan continues to get dry, use a tablespoon of broth, one at a time. This will impart flavor to the mushrooms.
(The choice for Essential Puree is always lower sodium broth when using store bought broth. Not every cook has time to make the broth at home, although it is well worth while to put this on your cook’s schedule.)
Remove mushrooms from pan with any juices and reserve in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
In the sauté pan, add two tablespoons oil and two tablespoons Wondraflour and brown the flour.
This is your roux, the classic thickening agent. When roux has browned, about a minute and a half, slowly add one cup simmering water. Whisking is a good idea. Stir or whisk as you go, careful to keep the gravy free of lumps.
Add mushrooms back to gravy. Cook for about six minutes on a slow simmer, whisking or stirring, to allow gravy to thicken and cook out the raw flour taste. This finishes the cooking of the mushrooms.
Add broth and continue stirring. The liquid will thicken in the pan. It will bubble. At this moment, add a secret ingredient. Add a shot or two of lower sodium soy sauce for color and flavor. The gravy will be done. It will be homemade and delicious. You can always add a tablespoon of minced fresh parsley to a finished gravy for color.
For the Puree
For four ounces of protein, use about a quarter cup of gravy adding more if needed. I recommend using a quarter cup of mashed potato, mashed sweet potato or stuffing, along with the protein and gravy, to get a smooth puree. You adjust the amount of the carb and gravy to achieve your desired thickness, according to your level of the National Dysphagia Diet.
Note: Dried mushrooms such as porcini will work. Follow the directions for rehydrating on the package. Save the rehydrating liquid and use it in the gravy.
Note: I use Wondraflour because it is light and contains rye flour and gives a good quality gravy. Also, it has less tendency to lump. Use any flour you like, including pastry unbleached whole wheat flour. A finer flour eliminates the bran.
Note: If you are gluten free, use rice flour or even coconut flour. Both of these are very light and will whisk in nicely without lumps. If you wish, you may even use a sieve to sieve the flour into the warm oil, to make sure there are no lumps. This is, however, an extra step.